- Posted by The CorkGuru
The days are turning warmer, and the end of frigid weather means it’s time to start preparing for the summer. Beach lovers are looking for new swimsuits. Boat owners are cleaning the barnacles off the hull. The paler among us begin to stockpile sunscreen.
Business owners, too, need to make their own preparations. For restaurants, longer days bring bigger crowds enjoying leisurely dinners after being cooped up all winter. And those bigger crowds present an opportunity for restaurants to attract new guests.
But you’ve got to get your name out to guests who are eager to sample new cuisine—and to make sure they’re satisfied when they visit. The time to start preparing is now if you want to capture new guests and boost your revenue this summer.
Here are 5 ways restaurants can get ready for the summer:
Prepare the summer touches.
Guests have seasonal tastes, and they’re often looking for something different during the summer than they were in the colder weather. Whether that means a lobster roll and a summer ale or open windows and happy hours, it’s important to make sure you’re ready to appeal to guests who are in a season-specific mindset.
Think about adding summer-inspired items to keep your menu fresh and interesting. Make sure you have your plans laid out for both food and décor. Determine who your distributors will be, and be ready to make the changes over the coming months.
Get the word out.
Summer can be make-or-break for many restaurants, so it’s always important to get the word out as early as possible. In the age of the Internet, there’s no better avenue than social media—especially Instagram and Snapchat.
Food pictures have taken over the Internet, and you should both share your own meals on your Facebook and Instagram accounts, and encourage guests to share their orders by making sure they can tag your restaurant when they snap their own food selfies. 18-35 year olds spend the equivalent of five days each year looking at pictures of food on Instagram; 30% said they’d avoid a restaurant if they had a bad Instagram page. You can also seek out coverage from popular local food-based Instagram accounts—see if they’ll feature some of your finest and most photogenic meals.
There are countless other small tasks that will help to market your restaurant or make you more easily discoverable. Consider registering your establishment on Apple Maps to increase your chances of being found in relevant searches, and try to make your Yelp presence a positive one.
Get your staff ready.
Sometimes, a seasonal rush means hiring new staff—for restaurants in vacation areas, it could even mean hiring an entirely new staff.
However you find your new summer employees, it’s important to start looking early to make sure you’re set well ahead of time (after all, the proactive early job seekers may be the best employees). But you not only need to have the employees, you have to plan and prepare their training with your restaurant processes and equipment. Here’s a quick guide we did to help with your staff training.
Optimize your technology.
One thing we’ve seen again and again is that wait time is a big factor in guest satisfaction, from convenience stores to restaurants. Restaurants now have new options in technology that can vastly speed up checkout, and the time to explore this tech is now, before the busy season hits.
Pay at the table, for instance, is growing in popularity throughout the US, and it can massively cut down on the process of payments in restaurants. 93% of restaurants usually have some wait time, and at the busiest times guests typically wait 30 minutes. Using pay at the table to turn over tables faster will make a huge difference in those times—it could cut them by nearly 20%.
And you need to have intuitive, easy-to-use tech, too, so that any new summer employees can easily learn it. Wait staff should concern themselves with remembering guest orders, not remembering how to enter them into your system.
Many restaurants have an outdoor space that can hold additional guests when the weather’s nice. It’s not only important for capacity, it’s important because so many guests will prefer restaurants with outdoor seating.
But even if you don’t have an outdoor space, there’s other ways to move beyond your four walls. Pop-up shops, food festivals, food trucks and more are ways to expose your brand to new guests. And if you’re using mobile technology, it not only can enable pay at the table that makes outdoor dining easier, it can enable remote checkout in areas like food trucks, too.
So while it may still be cold, it’s time to prepare for the better weather. Get started soon, and it can be a very prosperous summer.